Must Love Springsteen

blue soapbox  In memory of Florence Stern, 1916-2010

I’ve never been a dog person.  No soft spot for slobbery panting beasts over here.  No sense of humor about being barked at, sniffed at, or jumped by an animal nearly my size.  And as for those teeny tiny dogs—well, I guess I fail to grasp the appeal of a yapping bedroom slipper.

So how do I come to be over-the-moon about one particular 16-pound poodle named Darjeeling, Darji for short?

Darji came into our lives when Florence, the elderly mother of my BFF Ellen, could no longer take care of him.  Darji seemed cute enough, was well-trained and good-natured, and wouldn’t shed.  Maybe this would be fun.

That was two years ago, and even I am shocked by the extent to which I’ve crossed over.

How, for example, did I wind up with a book entitled Dress Your Dog:  Nifty Knits for Classy Canines, plus the necessary yarn and knitting needles for the sweater on page 47?

How have I turned into the type of nutcase who watches her darling five-year-old nephew walk alongside the dog, and squeals “Isn’t he just adorable?”—about the dog?

I’ve even been known to “read” a bedtime story to Darji:  Once upon a time, YOU’RE CUTE!  And they lived happily ever after.

And yet, I can’t imagine answering a want-ad that stipulates, as the movie title goes, “Must Love Dogs.”

Isn’t it odd that we don’t distinguish between wild enthusiasm for one specific member of a category, and a general affinity for it?   If you’re a writer, you’re thought of as a “book lover,” though you may not like the vast majority of books.  If you’re a classical music fan, it’s assumed you enjoy going to the symphony regardless of what’s being performed.

The French have the right idea, using the word gourmet for food connoisseur and a different word, gourmand, for indiscriminate or excessive eater.  That distinction would come in handy in areas besides food.

Take Bruce Springsteen, for instance.  I’ve never been a fan, and in truth, I don’t get the whole Boss thing.  But when “The Fuse” comes on at the very end of one of my favorite films, The 25th Hour—what could be more perfect?  Likewise, I absolutely love the song “Athena” even though I don’t particularly like The Who.

Too bad “rock’n’roll gourmet” sounds so pretentious, and “dog gourmet” sounds so… confusing.

I guess I assumed that if I ever got a dog and went nuts over it, I’d automatically become open-hearted toward all dogs.  The truth is, I still don’t respond to a lot of them.  I still resent the smack of their wagging tails.

But Darji…

Imagine this: the camera pans across a Western ghost town and zooms in on Darji in a cowboy hat, a red bandanna around his neck, a gun holster around his waist, as the narrator intones, They say he’s the cutest dog alive…

Published in the Piedmont Post, April 28, 2010

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2 Responses to “Must Love Springsteen”

  1. Bryan Says:

    I’m like you–not a dog fancier in general, but love our dog. The pleasant surprise for me as a first-time dog owner was how wonderful it is to always have a happy and enthusiastic presence in the house, and always there waiting for you when you come home. He is contentment itself. The few times he’s been away overnight at the vet’s the difference was palpable.

    • Lisa Braver Moss Says:

      Maybe there are more of us out there than we realize. There are certainly “I don’t like kids” people who go nutty over their own offspring. And I’m sure there are others who find Neil Young grating and overrated but love “The Needle and the Damage Done.” Right?

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